Fraud charges in Illinois cover a lot of ground. Virtually any transaction involving an exchange of money or property in some way can give rise to fraud charges. Fraud basically amounts to utilizing deception to gain a financial advantage in a transaction, whether that advantage is to cause someone to pay more than something actually is worth, or even to get another person to pay something for nothing. Fraud can take many forms but always boils down to this: you take actions that result in you receiving more money in a transaction than you should. That can include deceptions about what you are selling or deceptions in which you take over someone’s credit card or bank accounts and use the money for your own purposes, pretending that you are the rightful owner of those accounts. Committing fraud can result in serious criminal and/or civil penalties, including fines or jail time.
Numerous Provisions of Illinois Law Target Fraud
A number of sections of the Illinois state code take aim at very particularized kinds of fraud. This includes a number of kinds of fraud on creditors, such as fraud in insolvency, where a person attempts to hide or dispose of assets without the bankruptcy court or trustee becoming aware of the asset’s existence. This is a Class 2 or Class 3 felony, depending on the value of the assets.
- Making false statements to get a credit or debit card
- Using someone else’s credit or debit card of another with the intent to obtain money
- Selling or otherwise transferring possession of someone else’s debit or credit card knowing the card was taken without permission
- Having in your possession a lost or stolen credit or debit card
- Using a credit or debit card to secure a debt, with intent to defraud
- Using a fake, unissued, forged, revoked, or expired credit or debit card with the intent to defraud
- Using a credit or debit card, or an account number, with intent to defraud
- Furnishing items of value with intent to defraud
The law imposes significant penalties for credit card fraud. While the punishment depends on the circumstances of the fraud, including the number of people defrauded, the dollar amount of the fraud, and other factors, most crimes involving credit card fraud are at a minimum a Class 4 felony charge. These crimes are punishable by one to three years in prison, as well as fines of up to $25,000. The Illinois State Police Bureau of Identification publishes information about these convictions nationwide, meaning that current or potential employers can learn of the crime. You might get probation for a Class 4 felony, but even that will cost you time and money. Further, some credit card fraud crimes are Class 3 or Class 2 felonies. A Class 3 felony is punishable by two to five years in prison as well as a $150,000 fine, while Class 2 felonies can lead to prison sentences of three to seven years in addition to fines of as much as $200,000.
Credit fraud can include the use of a credit card, or any other form of credit, to obtain goods, property, or services with the intent to avoid paying. This can include identity theft, which involves using a credit card issued to another person, and identity assumption, which essentially is identity theft but using another person’s identity over the long term to commit credit fraud. Credit fraud can consist of application fraud, which would mean lying on a credit application about your credit-worthiness or identity, or account takeover, which involves assuming another person’s identity to use that person’s credit accounts.
Illinois law has separate provisions for check fraud, as well, falling under a section titled “Deceptive Practices.” Under this section, the crime of deceptive practices is defined as:
- Knowingly causing another, “by deception or threat, to execute a document disposing of property or a document by which a pecuniary obligation is incurred.
- “Being an officer, manager or other person participating in the direction of a financial institution, he or she knowingly receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent.
- “[Knowingly making] a false or deceptive statement addressed to the public for the purpose of promoting the sale of property or services.”
Check fraud, under the same section, basically consists of intentionally writing a check against an account that the check writer knows does not have the funds to cover the amount of the check, and using that check to obtain property or services.
While the state can pursue criminal charges in fraud cases, victims of fraud can also pursue civil charges to recover money taken from them through fraudulent actions. The criminal penalties for fraud, including wire fraud, mail fraud, racketeering, credit and check fraud, can include jail time, fines, and restitution to victims. In civil cases, the plaintiffs are out to get their money back. The fact that the fraudster already received a criminal conviction and penalties does not preclude a civil action.
If You Face Fraud-Related Charges in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, Contact the Criminal Attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C.
When you face fraud charges, you could be facing a felony conviction and all that carries with it. You will need a good defense, and that’s what you’ll get with the criminal attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C. The legal team has decades of experience with the criminal justice system, including years as felony prosecutors. They have inside knowledge of the system and will mount a tough and aggressive defense on your behalf. They are committed to delivering the best possible result. For a consultation in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, contact them 24 hours a day at (630) 474-8000.